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Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/74

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN DENMARK

as a matter of fact for the reason that the terms in which it was couched were not sufficiently explicit.

An act of 1876 concerning holidays was of little benefit to the working people, and it seems to have been devised chiefly in the interest of the established church. It prohibited sales in shops on Sundays between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., so that the hours of Sunday rest for tradesmen were seven at the most; and in some or all of these they might be working behind closed shutters. During the same seven hours any noisy work inside or outside the house that might disturb the peace of the Sabbath was prohibited; but this did not prevent quiet work in a workshop or warehouse or in the field. Private efforts to induce storekeepers to limit their sales on Sundays were usually unsuccessful, but they nevertheless roused society to a sense of the need of having recourse to the strong arm of the law. A successful preliminary step was taken in 1891, when sales in shops after nine o'clock on Sunday mornings were prohibited and factories were compelled to stop work at the same hour; but numerous exceptions were made for particular industries. A further step was taken in 1904. In general the prohibitions were extended to cover the whole of Sunday, and tradesmen thus at last obtained the full holiday. The long hours which many tradesmen had been compelled to work were limited by an act of 1908 providing that shops should be closed at 8 p.m.; but there was the unfortunate exception that on Saturdays they might be kept open until 11 p.m., and this without the compensation given elsewhere, as in Australia, in the form of an early closing hour on some other day of the week. In this respect Denmark has lagged behind most of the countries with English-speaking populations, where almost all workers have a half-holiday on Saturday. Only by slow degrees and individual initiative and influence have we arrived at early closing hours for banks and business offices. The reason formerly given for a late closing hour on Saturday was that workmen were paid off on that evening;